Union voice fears over temporary firefighter plans

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A UNION has warned of the dangers of using temporary firefighters amid fears of a strike.

Adverts have been posted in job centres across Wigan over threats firefighters will walk out as part of a national day of action next month in a pension dispute.

During previous strikes, the government has mobilised the army with green goddess appliances manned by soldiers. But that is not possible because of military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service will pay recruits £150 a day while they undergo three weeks of intensive training.

A total of 96 will be chosen to operate 21 fire engines from the first 500 applicants.

But The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warns that they will be putting themselves at risk and three weeks training is insufficient.

Paul Fogerty, spokesman for the FBU in Wigan, said: “The fire brigade has an obligation to provide a level of cover under The Civil Contingencies Act 2004. However, I believe these temporary firefighters would be putting themselves at risk.

“One thing you can’t train an individual is experience, especially whilst carrying out technical duties. Firefighters don’t just attend fires - there are numerous incidents using technical equipment, including specialist appliances which those individuals do not have the expertise to operate.

“The best way to resolve this is for the government to listen to talks and honour the pension the firefighters entered into when they joined the service.”

The proposed strike, which will include various members of the public sector, including council workers, NHS staff and court staff, would take place on November 30.

An initial consultation with the FBU revealed that 98 per cent of firefighters were prepared to strike. Discussions are still taking place.